Boing Boing 

Pakistani newspaper ad seeks bids for a Great Firewall of Pakistan

The ad, clipped from one of the national Pakistani newspapers today (it apparently ran in all of them), seeks bids for a national censoring firewall: "Each box should be able to handle a block list of up to 50 million URLs (concurrent unidirectional filtering capacity) with processing delay of not more than 1 milliseconds."

(Thanks, Shari!)

Ambiguously ironic superfluous grocer's apo'strophe

Alice spotted this coffee cart from the (above average) London coffee chain Apostrophe, which includes a superfluous apostrophe. It's either ironic or too clever by far.

Oh the irony.

Web Kids' manifesto

Piotr Czerski's manifesto, "We, the Web Kids," originally appeared in a Polish daily newspaper, and has been translated to English and pastebinned. I'm suspicious of generational politics in general, but this is a hell of a piece of writing, even in translation.

Writing this, I am aware that I am abusing the pronoun ‘we’, as our ‘we’ is fluctuating, discontinuous, blurred, according to old categories: temporary. When I say ‘we’, it means ‘many of us’ or ‘some of us’. When I say ‘we are’, it means ‘we often are’. I say ‘we’ only so as to be able to talk about us at all.

1. We grew up with the Internet and on the Internet. This is what makes us different; this is what makes the crucial, although surprising from your point of view, difference: we do not ‘surf’ and the internet to us is not a ‘place’ or ‘virtual space’. The Internet to us is not something external to reality but a part of it: an invisible yet constantly present layer intertwined with the physical environment. We do not use the Internet, we live on the Internet and along it. If we were to tell our bildnungsroman to you, the analog, we could say there was a natural Internet aspect to every single experience that has shaped us. We made friends and enemies online, we prepared cribs for tests online, we planned parties and studying sessions online, we fell in love and broke up online. The Web to us is not a technology which we had to learn and which we managed to get a grip of. The Web is a process, happening continuously and continuously transforming before our eyes; with us and through us. Technologies appear and then dissolve in the peripheries, websites are built, they bloom and then pass away, but the Web continues, because we are the Web; we, communicating with one another in a way that comes naturally to us, more intense and more efficient than ever before in the history of mankind.

Brought up on the Web we think differently. The ability to find information is to us something as basic, as the ability to find a railway station or a post office in an unknown city is to you. When we want to know something - the first symptoms of chickenpox, the reasons behind the sinking of ‘Estonia’, or whether the water bill is not suspiciously high - we take measures with the certainty of a driver in a SatNav-equipped car. We know that we are going to find the information we need in a lot of places, we know how to get to those places, we know how to assess their credibility. We have learned to accept that instead of one answer we find many different ones, and out of these we can abstract the most likely version, disregarding the ones which do not seem credible. We select, we filter, we remember, and we are ready to swap the learned information for a new, better one, when it comes along.

To us, the Web is a sort of shared external memory. We do not have to remember unnecessary details: dates, sums, formulas, clauses, street names, detailed definitions. It is enough for us to have an abstract, the essence that is needed to process the information and relate it to others. Should we need the details, we can look them up within seconds. Similarly, we do not have to be experts in everything, because we know where to find people who specialise in what we ourselves do not know, and whom we can trust. People who will share their expertise with us not for profit, but because of our shared belief that information exists in motion, that it wants to be free, that we all benefit from the exchange of information. Every day: studying, working, solving everyday issues, pursuing interests. We know how to compete and we like to do it, but our competition, our desire to be different, is built on knowledge, on the ability to interpret and process information, and not on monopolising it.

We, the Web Kids (Thanks, @travpol!)

Zombie Princess Leia and Stormtrooper cosplayers

Vill4no snapped this great shot of zombie Star Wars cosplayers at Megacon 2012, where there was much awesomeness on display, judging from the rest of the set.

Best Star Wars Cosplay ever

Losar: Tibetan New Year, and "mandatory celebrations"

Inside Tibet and elsewhere, ethnic Tibetans are today observing Losar, or Tibetan New Year. Above: Tibetan women pray around Labrang Monastery in Xiahe county, Gansu Province.

Three Tibetan Buddhist monks set have themselves on fire since Friday, in the latest reported self-immolations denouncing Chinese policies in Tibet and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama. The youngest was an 18-year-old named Nangdrol. From the Tibetan government in exile:

He died on the spot. Chinese police officers attempted to take away his body, but were prevented from doing so by the monks of Zamthang Jonang monastery. The monks later cremated him and performed all the necessary rituals and prayers for the deceased. According to eyewitnesses, while setting himself on fire Nangdrol folded his hands in a gesture of peace, calling for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Police and military presence are high throughout the region, particularly at monasteries where these tragic acts of self-sacrifice have taken place. By various accounts, as many as 25 Tibetans inside Tibet have self-immolated in protest in the past two years.

Many Tibetans are abstaining from celebrating Losar, as an act of protest and of mourning for those who have burned themselves to death. In response, Communist Party officials in Lhasa have banned those boycotts, resulting in what are described as "mandatory celebrations" of Tibetan New Year. In essence, Beijing is forcing mourning Tibetans to party.

The English-language Global Times, owned by People's Daily (the Communist Party's official newspaper) published this rich line of Newspeak:

The country's Tibetan-populated regions are in a party mood as the Tibetan New Year, or Losar, falls today, striking a stark contrast with the call by the "Tibetan government in exile" to cancel celebrations.

The Losar holiday, which lasts two weeks, is followed by the 53rd anniversary of the Tibetan uprising, which took place on March 10, 1959. It's hard to imagine the climate of military intimidation and surveillance in the region ratcheting up any higher, but the uprising anniversary date typically brings just that.

Read the rest

Boing Boing science editor Maggie live-tweets a cross-country train adventure

Our Maggie Koerth-Baker is on a train adventure across the USA. She's tweeting the ride. Everything about this is awesome. Here's a storify collection of most of her tweets.

(thanks, Chris!).

This Is My Home

A short film about the happy side of hoarding by Kelsey Holtaway and Mark Cersosimo of Departure Arrival Films:

On an unseasonably warm November night in Manhattan on our way to get ice cream, we stumbled upon what appeared to be a vintage shop, brightly lit display window and all. As we began to walk in, a man sitting out front warned us that we were welcome to explore, but nothing inside was for sale. Our interests piqued, we began to browse through the collections the man out front had built throughout his life. This is a story of a man and his home.

[Video Link]

How Facebook decides which images to allow

Wondering why your Facebook breastfeeding image was blocked, but not the image of a deep wound your friend posted? Wonder no more. A leaked document reveals the weird, arcane, and extremely detailed guidelines used to determine which images are Facebook-safe.

Facebook bans images of breastfeeding if nipples are exposed – but allows "graphic images" of animals if shown "in the context of food processing or hunting as it occurs in nature". Equally, pictures of bodily fluids – except semen – are allowed as long as no human is included in the picture; but "deep flesh wounds" and "crushed heads, limbs" are OK ("as long as no insides are showing"), as are images of people using marijuana but not those of "drunk or unconscious" people.

Facebook's nudity and violence guidelines are laid bare (via Naked Capitalism)

Creepy cartoons of the day

Modern cereal box art features beloved characters rendered in a certain overdone pseudo-3D style. The technique: slickly-gradated shadows with intense highlights. When done well, the result offers the vividness and "pop" of computer graphics, without losing the hand-drawn warmth of a traditional 'toon.

Done badly, and it causes goosebumps. Take the Fred Flintstone on this cereal box, for example. Those too-shiny highlights are applied, as if at gunpoint, over a too-realistic stubble texture. Like a corpse dipped in urethane, it has all the gross realism of Untooned Homer.

Bonus creepy! Check out the latest rendering of Smokey Bear, the once-cute mascot of the U.S. Park Service.

Smokey is now highly-enriched nightmare fuel. But it's not those dead eyes, melted reactors deep within the CGI exclusion zone, that will haunt you. It's the neat row of human milk teeth, glistening in the reeking forest stool pit of his mouth.

Previously: Badly-drawn cereal characters & What the heck is this weird skin flap on Boo Berry?

Pronunciation Guide: extremely funny videos on how to pronounce things

[Video Link], via Sean Bonner. I LOL'd, then cried, then hit play again and LOL'd some more. CONTAINS HELVETICA.

Know What: a new kind of hyper-curated city guide for iphones (android coming soon)

Know What is a new travel guide for LA and San Francisco (with New York, Chicago, Portland coming soon). It's available on the iPhone, and you can buy additional guides from different people. I contributed a guide for 25 spots around LA, called "Unicorns, Carnivorous Plants & Other Angelenos I've Known and Loved." You can get it as an in-app purchase.

Know What Mark Frauenfelder Unicorns Carnivorous Plants-1 Know What is kinda like the anti-Yelp -- instead of 10,000 angry know-it-alls spitting venom cuz they read the menu wrong, it's all people who know better than anybody what they're talking about. And what they're talking about is their favorite places and local joints in the cities they know best.

And fighting back against the bland-ification of life.

People from groundbreaking websites like, and

Brilliantly creative folks like Weetzie Bat author Francesca Lia Block, OC Weekly editor Gustavo Arellano, and Girls Gone Child blogger Rebecca Woolf

Mission-driven non-profits like the LA Conservancy, SF Heritage and SPUR

Purveyors of rare and vital information like Esotouric, Thinkwalks and LA Bizarro, the best selling guide to LA's absurd underbelly

And they take us to some amazing places – lots of places that (gasp! is it possible?) don't even exist online. We're currently covering LA and San Francisco, with New York, Chicago, Portland, and Seattle coming really soon.

Touch earthquakes with your bare hands in SF … eat Korean BBQ that'll melt your brain off in LA … drink with ghosts at Bukowski's favorite bar … guaranteed make-outs at the Bay's best secret view (*actually guaranteed) … get your mind thoroughly blown by all the awesome nobody even knows about in San Jose (and likewise Orange County. YES -- Orange County).

And it's priced so that you buy what you want, don't pay for what you don't, and the whole time you're supporting all these great people and non-profits that are doing their thing to keep the internet and the world super rad. ($2.99 gets you the app with more to do than you've got time for, and you can keep adding content for less than the cost of an old bag of Jolly Ranchers.)
Know What

Ooky ceiling lamp

Daniel Ritthanondh's "Barnacle Ceiling Lamp" is a tribute to the decor in the game Half Life, an altogether ooky bit of ceiling sculpture. Not yet available for sale, but Ritthanondh advises that a limited run will be forthcoming.

Barnacle Ceiling Lamp! (via Neatorama)

Every opening of Beethoven's "Eroica" symphony

[Video Link]. YouTube viewer comment: "I liked the part where they played the opening chords of the symphony."

(thanks, Joe Sabia!)

BBC News mashup finds parallel universe between lines

Cassetteboy vs. The News: "There's been a shocked response around the world to video footage appearing to show U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urinating on Boris Johnson." [YouTube via Metafilter]

The Ballad of Justin Bloody Bieber, sung by 82-year-old gentleman

Video Link: "Justin, Bloody Justin, Bloody Bieber," by Hugh Oliver (website).

It is reckoned that he's hotter
Than Harry fucking Potter,
His hairdo like some wagging gold retriever,
Looking lovely, looking cute
In his pater-knity suit,
Our Justin, bloody Justin, bloody Bieber.

The scorpion on the wall is a nice touch.

(thanks, Joe Sabia!)

Earnest Biblical gentleman refutes rotating Earth, heliocentrism, relativity

In this earnest, protracted video, an emphatic gentleman argues that the Earth does not rotate, and stresses that if science's claims to the contrary are accepted, that this will call all of the Bible into question. 35 minutes later, I have watched many inspirational minicopter launches from the hood of a moving pickup truck to the accompaniment of wailing rock-n-roll guitars, while tiny, repetitive type rolls across the screen. It's quite a convincer. Also: Motocross! Parasailing! Babies with glasses! Mumbo jumbo excuses! RUBBISH I SAY!!!

The earth is not rotating - spinning - or moving !! (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Autonomous truss-climbing robot reconfigures buildings on the fly

Cornell's Franz Nigl and Jeremy Blum demonstrate their truss-climbing robot in this video, which accompanies a paper accepted into IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine. The robot can climb and reconfigure the trusses in a 3D structure, redesigning a building on the fly, autonomously. It would be pretty cool to see a swarm of these running a genetic algorithm, dynamically redesigning a skyscraper.

This video presents a robot capable of autonomously traversing and manipulating a 3D truss structure. The robot is able to approach and traverse multiple structural joints using a combination of translational and rotational motions. A key factor in allowing reliable motion and engagements is the use of specially designed structural building blocks comprised of bidirectional geared rods. A set of traversal plans, each comprised of basic motion primitives, were analyzed for speed, robustness, and repeatability. Paths covering eight joints are demonstrated, as well as automatic element assembly and disassembly. We suggest that the robot architecture and truss module design, such as the one presented here, could open the door to robotically assembled, maintained, and reconfigured structures that would ordinarily be difficult, risky, or time consuming for humans to construct.

Autonomous Robotic Truss Reconfiguration and Manipulation (via Beyond the Beyond)

Shit cancer patients say

"Wait 'til they hear about this on CaringBridge!"

I can relate to this video by 21-year-old Woody Roseland of Colorado. Here's his website with more background on his personal story, and his creative work as a podcaster, vlogger, public speaker, and his title of "Denver's best looking amputee."

If you or a loved one are going through chemotherapy right now (I am, it sucks)— you will find many familiar chords in this video. And by chord, I mean, among other things, the incessant beeping of that fucking drip machine that delivers the healing poison that makes you puke and kills tumors.

Woody, if you're reading: IV fist bump, man. Solidarity and strength, and best wishes to you. You're really awesome. Also, we currently have matching hairdos.

(via Jody Schoger)

San Francisco's "public" privately owned spaces are hidden away and that needs to change

In San Francisco, developers who want to build big projects are required to make space available to the public as part of their planning permission. Some of the most beautiful spots in town are in these privately owned public spaces. But you'd be hard-pressed to discover their existence, as many of them are hidden away with tiny, obscure signs announcing them, and in some cases, you have to sign in with a guard to get to them. Writing on SFGate, John King lays out the problem and suggests some solutions:

The solution: pull back the addition's 11th floor to tuck in a terrace that also maintains views from the west of the 1906 landmark's regal mansard roof.

The result is unique, a vantage point of the sort that until now was available only to penthouse dwellers or corner-office executives. The space itself is amply outfitted with benches and planters.

The problem, again, is knowing that it exists.

The 1985 plan states that when public spaces are located within or on top of buildings, "their availability should be marked visibly at street level." But because the guidelines are so vague, it's easy to fulfill their letter but not their spirit.

That's true of One Kearny's hideaway. By placing the sign at knee level - and making it less than 5 inches wide - the likelihood of outsiders finding their way to the roof is almost nil.

At another recent space, the enclosed plaza included as part of the Millennium Tower, the exterior sign is brushed metal. But at 6 inches square, it's too easy to miss.

Compare this with the signs required for similar private-but-public spaces in New York City. The city's planning code requires signs to be "12 inches square in dimension and dark green or black in color with a highly contrasting background," with "lettering at least two inches in height stating 'OPEN TO PUBLIC.' "

Privately owned public spaces: Guidance needed (via JWZ)

Anne Frank is a Mormon again

A leaked screenshot from a Mormon database shows that Anne Frank has been posthumously baptised into the Mormon faith, again, despite LDS church promises to the contrary. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!)

Macraméd iPod headphones


My friend Nicole Tindall macraméd her iPod headphones! Not only do they look fantastic, they tangle less frequently. Bonus: Nicole used macramé string out of her mom's old supplies dating back to macramé's early 1970s heyday.

Amazon strong-arms Independent Publishers' Group, yanks all titles from the Kindle store

Eileen Gunn sez, "Amazon, seeking to force independent book distributor IPG to accept a new, less favorable contract, has struck out at all the publishers and authors whose books are distributed by IPG. Not to mention all the readers with Kindles: You want a Kindle version of the American Cancer Society Nutrition Guide? You're out of luck at Amazon. Maybe you should have bought a Nook."

Or maybe the distributor should have thought of that before allowing DRM for some or all of its catalog, which means that people who bought Kindle editions of their books to date are now locked into Kindle and can't convert their books for other platforms. Otherwise, IPG could switch to Nook books (insisting that they be sold DRM-free) and advertise that readers are free to convert their old Kindle books to run on the Nook, or their new Nook books to run on their old Kindles.

Suchomel writes: " is putting pressure on publishers and distributors to change their terms for electronic and print books to be more favorable toward Amazon. Our electronic book agreement recently came up for renewal, and Amazon took the opportunity to propose new terms for electronic and print purchases that would have substantially changed your revenue from the sale of both. It's obvious that publishers can't continue to agree to terms that increasingly reduce already narrow margins. I have spoken directly with many of our clients and every one of them agrees that we need to hold firm with the terms we now offer. I'm not sure what has changed at Amazon over the last few months that they now find it unacceptable to buy from IPG at terms that are acceptable to our other customers." Suchomel reiterated to us that the company's terms of sale for ebooks have not changed.

Amazon Removes Kindle Versions of IPG Books After Distributor Declines to Change Selling Terms

Replica Portal guns coming in May

NECA and BigBadToyStore have announced a forthcoming line of Portal toys, including this awesome Portal Gun replica.

Aperature Studios Portal Gun Prop Replica (via Super Punch)

California's failed attempt at video-game censorship costs the state $2M

Now that California's video-game censorship law has been struck down by the courts, the state finds itself $2 million poorer, having had to pay the legal expenses of all the vendors they sued under it.

A bit over half a decade ago when California legislators felt entitled to protect children across their state by restricting sales of violent video games struck me as deeply amusing from the onset. Not because it would end up costing the state roughly $2 Million in legal fees after a failed appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court nor out of the sheer disregard for the First Amendment. But because the sheer bureaucratic arrogance on the parts of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown, the Governor of California and State Attorney during this time in believing it was their responsibility to discern what content children should or shouldn’t have exposure...

Created by California lawmaker Former San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Leland Yee, now a senator, in the hopes of curbing children’s access to games that allow for assassination, violent crimes, rape, etc. – the law would have fined retailers $1000 for each instance of selling a game to a child that depicted any sort of terrifyingly horrible act that could teach children the crimes in games versus reality are exactly on par. Yee also made a provision in the law that violence in a game would be visibly denoted by some sort of label on the packaging, a measure already taken by the game industry’s ESRB.

California's struck down video game law saddles state with $2 Million bill (via /.)

Cyclops cosplayer

Danny Choo snapped this wonderful cosplay cyclops at the Wonder Festival.

Wonder Festival Cosplay (via Geekologie)

HOWTO turn off Google's search-history logging and erase your stored history

With Google's privacy policy change looming, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a guide to turning off Google's search-history logging, thus preventing your search-history from all of Google's services, including YouTube, from being merged and tracked together. You can also erase your stored search-history while you're there.

On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google's other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more. If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future.

How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google's New Privacy Policy Takes Effect

Jane and Mark on the Mutant Season Podcast about Apps for Kids

The latest episode of The Mutant Season, hosted by the amazing 9-year-old Gil, has an interview with Jane and me about our podcast, Apps for Kids. We had a great time on the show, which is conducted in a studio at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles.

The Mutant Season: Mark and Jane Frauenfelder of Boing Boing

Congressional staffers and the revolving door to lobbyist firms

Nicko from the Sunlight Foundation sez, "Today the Sunlight Foundation continued an investigation of how congressional offices operate with a closer look at the ever-present "Revolving Door." The new analysis, covering 2009 to 2011, found at least 378 House staffers left Congress and became registered lobbyists, according to a review of U.S. House disbursement data and federal lobbying records. This group of former House offices and committee staffers includes 50 legislative assistants, 32 chiefs of staff, 26 legislative directors and 22 staff assistants who moved from Capitol Hill to K Street. The Sunlight Foundation's senior fellow, Lee Drutman, concludes:"

Congress continues to operate as a farm team for future lobbyists. Staff build up contacts and policy and political expertise. Then they often go "downtown" and cash in, taking their expertise and networks with them. Though a certain flow of personnel from Congress to K Street is inevitable, Congress ought to do more to hold onto experienced staff. Recently, we explored retention rates among House staff, and we found that offices that paid their staff more had slightly higher retention rates, though Hill salaries lag behind private sector comparisons. When staff leaves to lobby, their former offices must find somebody new and usually less experienced. And offices who lack staff with policy expertise and political relationships often must rely more on outside lobbyists, who are only too happy to fill the gap.

Almost 400 former House staffers registered to lobby in last two years

Online spot market for voiceovers

VoiceBunny is an online spot-market for professional voiceovers for your videos, podcasts, voicemail systems, etc. I imagine that involving the "In a world where..." movie trailer voice in your threatening Anonymous video would sure leaven things and give them an air of professionalism and polish. They also offer work to voice actors.

Fast and professional voices for any type of project.
* You determine the price or royalties
* Use our site or our API
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VoiceBunny: Fast and professional voiceovers

Alaska Airlines flight attendant: if I don't get the missing video screen back, no one gets off this plane

Jeff sez, "Flying in from Miami to Seattle this morning on Alaska Airlines Flight #17, I was somewhat amused (and a bit horrified) when the flight attendant said that the cabin doors would not be opened and that passengers would not be allowed off to catch connecting flights if the last video player (digiplayer, as she called it) was not returned. Partly, I'm amused because of the ridiculousness of the threat vs. the magnitude of the crime but also I have to wonder if this is against FAA regulations. I also have a brilliant tip for Alaska - when you rent a digiplayer, note down the seat number.